I grew up in Hoopeston, IL, 11 miles east of Rankin. When I was a kid, I was quite shocked to learn that Rankin, of all places, once had a small railyard. It was originally a division point yard on the Lake Erie & Western between Tipton, IN and Peoria, IL. It maintained its division point status until the early 1930's, when the Nickel Plate finally consolidated the now merged LE&W's operations with the former Clover Leaf's at Frankfort, IN. This was done as a cost-cutting measure during the early part of the Great Depression. John Rehor's "The Nickel Plate Story" discusses this change in more detail. As a result of its closure, the Nickel Plate created a crew district approximately 180 miles long from Frankfort to East Peoria. That was a real long way for a crew to go "back in the day".
As bn13814 alluded, in later years Rankin was used by the "3-day Local" to tie up after the first day out of Frankfort. In railroading the bygone importance of places seems to die hard. I remember back in the winter of either 1988 or 1989, when I was was a college student at Illinois State travelling back home to Hoopeston, seeing the abandonment work train that was pulling up the track tied up at where else but the old yard site east of Rankin! I wish I had a picture of that train now. Too young and dumb at the time sorry to say...
As late as 1940, Rankin still had a turntable, a small roundhouse building, and a coaling dock. It is remarkable that the outline of the yard still remains visible. It shows up plain as day on even the 2005 USGS NAPP aerial photography.
The State of Illinois has recently begun work to scan the original USDA aerial photos shot back in 1938-41. You can view what was left of the Rankin Yard complex by visiting:
Note: to view the aerial photos posted on this site you will need to download and install the MrSID image viewer.